Nobody likes getting ill and autumn can be a particularly infectious time of year as the temperature cools down and bugs and viruses rear their ugly heads. Follow these simple tips this season to protect your health and fight off ailments before they arise.
Eat a Rainbow
Your diet should be packed with a variety of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates and proteins all year round, but in autumn it’s particularly important to make sure you’re eating right. Aim to eat a ‘rainbow’ of foods – such as orange carrots, yellow peppers and leafy greens – to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients.
Try to stick to your regular exercise regime throughout winter, as regular bursts of exercise will keep your immune system ticking over. Aim for 30-60 minute activities three or four times a week and if you’re venturing outside, don’t forget to make sure you dress for the weather. If you’re worried about going out in the cold, mix up your routine to include indoor activities such as dancing, zumba or yoga.
Having a good level of fluids in your system is essential to keeping your body happy and healthy. If you become dehydrated you could be more susceptible to fatigue and it will take longer for bugs to be flushed out of your system. Drinking water regularly will do the trick, but if you want something warmer opt for a fruit or herbal tea instead of black tea or coffee.
Take the dog for a walk, spend time in the garden with your kids, or walk to the shops instead of taking the car to get plenty of fresh air. So long as you’re dressed warmly you shouldn’t be worried about taking a brisk walk in the great outdoors – the fresh air can actually be great for your immune system, particularly if you live in the countryside.
Order Garlic Bread
The term ‘superfoods’ has been bounced around in the media, but when it comes to fighting off colds, garlic really can give your immune system that extra boost. Allicin is responsible for the distinct aroma associated with garlic, but it’s also a powerful antioxidant that can help to shorten and even prevent colds altogether. Garlic is most effective when eaten raw, so chop a couple of cloves up and mix in with other foods, or swallow chunks with water and follow with a sprig of parsley to prevent ‘garlic breath’.
Even if you’re eating right and getting plenty of exercise and fresh air, you can’t avoid other people. Germs can easily be picked up through handshakes or on public transport so it’s important to wash your hands regularly. Take a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel with you when you go out and about, and try to avoid putting your hands to your face to stop the spread of germs.
Head for Bed
Sleep is your body’s natural recovery time, and erratic sleeping patterns or not getting enough zzz’s can have a serious impact on your health, making you far more susceptible of picking up viruses. If you feel that you might be coming down with something it’s important to let your body rest and catch up on as much sleep as possible.
Keep Your Distance
This point may go against the good manners your parents instilled in you, but try to avoid socialising with friends or family who have contagious ailments such as colds. If you do catch their bug you could end up passing it back and forth, which will mean a far longer recovery time for both of you. Send them a get well card and some chicken soup and arrange to meet up when they’re feeling better.
Those are my top tips for keeping dreaded colds and flu away – do you have any more tips?
Gavin Harvey is a personal trainer and fitness fanatic who recommends drfox.co.uk. His favourite way to ward of a cold is to maintain a regular exercise regime.